The apples have been sauced and now it is time for pumpkins.
Trenton hurt his back last week, right before cold weather set in so the kids and I worked really hard to get the last of the garden harvested before the frost hit. It started snowing and blowing right away in the morning so we bundled up to get morning chores done and pick the pumpkins. I started doing chores while I sent Lucian to find his red wagon to put the pumpkins in.
This may be a little parental bragging but that son of mine can get a job done once he sets his mind to it. I was struggling to move the round bale feeder, which is a big metal ring with head slots to keep the horses from walking on their hay and wasting it, when I noticed the kids in the garden loading their wagon with little pie pumpkins. Fiona and Lucian were having a great time hunting for the bright orange pumpkins and didn’t need my help at all. I told them where to put the pumpkins in the garage and they went about their business.
Letting them complete that chore on their own gave them an accomplishment to be proud of. They were able to see a job well done and I was proud of them because they knew their dad was hurt and they wanted to help.
Now that the pumpkins are picked it is time to cook them down. In previous years I would scoop out the seeds, cut the peel off the meat of the pumpkin, and cook it down in a crock-pot. Last year I decided to halve the pumpkins, scoop out the seeds, and cook them in the oven like I do squash. It was soooo much easier.
After the pumpkin is soft I scoop it out and freeze it. Most pumpkin recipes call for two cups so it is easier to measure the cooked pumpkin into bags. Then it is already measured and all I have to do is thaw and add it to the recipe.
One of the benefits to having animals is that hardly anything goes to waste. I give the pumpkin seeds and pulp to my goats because it works as a natural dewormer and I give the cooked skins to the chickens. Jack, our horse, has even nibbled pumpkin rind on occasion.
I love cooking with pumpkin because it is versatile and wholesome. There are not many vegetables that can taste good in a cookie and a soup.
My favorite pumpkin recipe is an easy pumpkin bread from Betty Crocker:
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin or 2 cups homegrown pumpkin
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottoms of two 8×4-inch loaf pans.
Here is where I improvise. I don’t like to do dishes so if I can complete a recipe in one bowl I will do so.
2. In a large bowl beat 2 cups of sugar and butter. Add the eggs one or two at a time beating well. Beat in water and pumpkin. Add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir well until moistened add chocolate chips. Spread evenly in pans. Sprinkle tops with chocolate chips, pecans, and sugar. (I always forget the topping, but it tastes great without it.)
3. Bake 1 hour and 5-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove to cooling rack.
The recipe is easy and tastes delicious. It also works well if it is halved and muffin tins can be used instead of a bread pan.
How do you like to use your pumpkins?
Don’t forget to save a few to make Jack-o-Lanterns! Lucian and Fiona are excited to make Pumpkin Moonshines like little Sylvie Ann in Pumpkin Moonshine which is one of their favorite books from their Aunty Jessica.